Suedehead: The Rhythm and The Groove

Suedehead plays Kilby Court on Dec. 5. Photo: D. Bahn

Formed just over a year ago, Southern California’s soul-pop pushers Suedehead are all about positivity … and dancing. “Our only real goal is to be productive and try and play good music,” says vocalist/guitarist Davey Warsop, perhaps best known for his work with the UK’s Beat Union. “That’s what gets us off. That’s what matters.” If the band’s first three vinyl EPs—released on their own International Soul Rebel Society imprint—are any indication, they are certainly living up to Warsop’s stated goal.

Suedehead is essentially an all-star lineup of musicians who have come together to create somewhat of a perfect hybrid of punk, pub rock and good old Motown grooves. In addition to Warsop, the band is comprised of Chris Bradley—a Utah ex-patriot who played in diverse bands such as Interstate, Model Citizen and Qaango before moving to California in the late ‘90s—Korey Horn (The Aggrolites, Hepcat), Greg Kuehn (TSOL, Berlin) and Mike Bisch. Warsop and Bradley met while working for Hurley, where Warsop runs the recording studio and Bradley is currently the Senior Brand Environment Designer. Warsop was demoing material in the studio when, in December of 2010, he was approached by Mike Ness—yes, of Social Distortion—who asked to hear said demos. What he heard prompted Ness to ask Warsop to bring the band together and open shows for Social Distortion. “(We) rehearsed six of Davey’s songs and a Joe Jackson cover and played a few shows,” says Bradley. “The band had so much fun that we decided to do it as a real thing, so we started recording within a week of first playing with Social Distortion, and set some serious goals. Within a month, we had the first four song EP off to press and the second four song EP halfway done.”

Admittedly, the band is Warsop’s brainchild. “He is the musical mastermind behind the band,” says Bradley. The band has many different influences, but the ones that stand out are the late ‘70s and early ‘80s English mod/power-pop bands like The Jam, Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello, but the music also belies a real element of ‘60s soul and Motown. Add to that a definite pop-punk element—similar to early Stranglers stuff—and you start to get somewhat of a feel for what Suedehead is all about. “It’s tight, but it ain’t too slick,” says Bradley.

The band’s first four-song EP was released on vinyl with a free digital download card, and on iTunes in May 2011, and has been followed in the interim with two more four-song EPs, all released in the same format. “All of the records have been getting great reviews,” says Bradley. “We’re really stoked that people are digging what we are laying down.” The band’s International Soul Rebel Society has been filling numerous mail orders weekly, in the U.S. and abroad, and the band considers the imprint to be more than simply a label to push their releases. “I.S.R.S. also serves as a sort of fan-club and microphone for all things Suedehead,” says Bradley. “Anyone who buys the records is, in fact, an International Soul Rebel Society member, as they are supporting the next releases by purchasing the current.” As for planned future releases, the band has several things planned. “We are planning a covers EP which we are recording now,” says Bradley. Planned covers include songs from acts such as Fugazi and The Spencer Davis Group—not exactly two bands conventional listeners would expect to hear on the same release. “We are a hard working band, man,” says Bradley. “The covers EP will come out sometime in early in 2012, and will be closely followed by a full-length release.” The band also has a goal to make a music video for every song.  

Suedehead is gearing up to embark on their first proper U.S. tour—roughly a month long with Social Distortion and Chuck Ragan—and will be headlining their first show in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 5 at Kilby Court, with openers yet to be announced. “The crowd can expect a lot of energy, a lot of dancing and a great time,” says Bradley. “We are all about having an upbeat, happy time when we play, and the music is completely reflective of that.” Check out the band’s EPs, and get your dancing shoes ready for the Salt Lake date.

Suedehead plays Kilby Court on Dec. 5. Photo: D. Bahn